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在线翻译:
szdaily -> World Economy
Second round of NAFTA talks ends amid resistance over Mexico wages
    2017-September-7  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

THE second round of talks on renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) ended Tuesday amid resistance to discussing Mexico’s low wages and large differences over dispute resolution mechanisms.

The head negotiators for all three countries at the talks in Mexico City said progress had been made, but U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer said some areas were going to be challenging.

“There’s no secret that the labor provisions will be contentious and that it’s our objective to have provisions that raise wage rates in Mexico,” Lighthizer said. “I think that’s in the interest of Mexicans and in the interest of the United States.”

He also said that while the United States had proposed eliminating the current dispute resolution mechanism, “we haven’t had any detailed negotiations” on the system, which is known as Chapter 19.

Text was coming together for most chapters of the treaty, however, including small and medium enterprises, competitiveness, digital trade, services and the environment.

“The strategy is to conclude in the short term those things that can be concluded” and then tackle the thornier issues, Mexican Economy Secretary Ildefonso Guajardo said.

Regarding energy, Guajardo said “there are no points of difference or controversy.” He said the main question was whether it should have its own chapter or be spread across all chapters.

But those close to the talks said relatively few concrete proposals appear to have been made on contentious issues like dispute-resolution mechanisms, seasonal farm tariffs and regional content rules.

The United States wants to eliminate the Chapter 19 private arbitration panels, while Canada wants to keep them. The panels can overrule tariffs, making it harder for the United States to unilaterally block products.

“It is clear that there are differing positions on Chapter 19,” Guajardo said.

Produce growers, many of whom have operations in all three countries, said they like the current dispute resolution system. They said changing it might force them to adjudicate disputes in courts in one of the three countries, a prospect they don’t relish.

“I think industries across all three countries have found Chapter 19 to be an effective, timely method for dealing with disputes,” said the head of the United Fresh Produce Association, Thomas Stenzel. Repealing it “could certainly make it a much more complicated, legalistic process.”

The United States also wants to tighten labor standards and local content rules in products like autos. But business groups want to keep wages out of the talks. Lighthizer declined to go into detail on either of those topics.

“I think mandating wages becomes very difficult across multiple countries,” said Stenzel. (SD-Agencies)

 

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